Virginia Governor's Cup Silver Medal Winner
Vidulce is the very special wine made at Caihailian Vineyard. Using the 1,512 Vidal Blanc grape vines originally planted in 1998, this wine drives to the strengths for which this grape is known. Commonly grown in Ontario and the New York Finger Lakes to make an ice wine, Vidal produces a wine which can finish with a satisfying balance of sweet and acid (yes-acid is what carries the flavors of all our favorite beverages!) While the ice wines are produced by harvesting grapes frozen on the vine in early winter (generally under lights at night), Caihailian uses a cryoconcentration process to more rationally process the grape juice at normal harvest season, time of day, and working conditions.
The grapes are brought in from the vineyard and processed through a crusher/de-stemmer, before loading into a 780 liter bladder press. The “free-run” juice drains immediately, but once the bladder is inflated the denser juice is easily coaxed out of the grape pulp. After several cycles of advancing pressure and resting periods, the better part of what the grape has to give has been collected from the press spout and pumped into a barrel (to homogenize the press cuts and settle any solids). From the barrel, the juice is pumped into small containers (1/2 gallon milk jugs and 3L water bottles) and taken immediately to a large chest freezer.
During the winter and spring months, a calculated number of the small containers is taken in batches from the freezer and thawed while inverted over a gutter device. Only the first 70-80% of the thawed juice is retained in buckets, because it possesses by far the greater part of the sugars and flavors from the juice. This concentrate is again frozen and stored until enough has been processed to be ready for fermentation.
When enough concentrate is formed to fill a fermenter, the buckets are thawed and dumped into the fermenter with yeast and nutrients to ensure a successful fermentation. The yeast consumes the concentrate sugars and converts most of it to alcohol. A residual sugar is left behind, as well as the unique flavor balance that makes Vidulce such a special wine. Over a period of months, the new wine is “racked” off of the yeast fermentation by-products and progressively clarified and eventually filtered in preparation for bottling.
One of the final steps is to blend the new Vidulce with a volume reserved from the previous batch of Vidulce. A portion of the current batch is also withheld from the bottling to “pass it forward,” thus blending batches and ensuring consistency in the Vidulce product from year-to-year. The fermented wine is bulk aged in the fermenter.
Bottling is a family affair, as so many pieces must dance together for the final art. The aged and blended wine comes through filters into the sterile bottle filler. A cork is hand driven into the narrow neck of our unique bottle. The bottle is then wiped dry and polished after handling. The labels are applied along with the heat shrunk blue capsules. The bottles are set upright for a few days to allow pressure under the cork to release. And finally each case of wine is inverted to keep the corks wet until sold to you.